Research, aim, fire

April 25, 2014 

To quote Brandon Sanderson: “Doesn’t matter how good your bullets are if you don’t aim carefully.”

That’s why research is a powerful resource for fueling the future of our marketing efforts for the City of Lee’s Summit. For the past 16 months, we’ve relied on research to serve as our intelligence to strengthen our strategy, planning and execution elements of our marketing efforts. Here are several examples of how research keeps us “ahead of the curve.”

Understanding what makes our key targets think, feel and act by staying on top of emerging issues.

Keeping constant insight serves as a valuable resource that helps expand our thinking about the possibilities for visitor and business growth.

Identifies differences between key target segments of interest including: gender, income level, generational attitudes, motivational levers and more.

Let’s look at the generational divide. There are at least four fairly distinct key generational targets which reflect various life stages that serve as a catalyst for the unique set of needs, wants and desires of each generation.

A. The Matures, born before 1946. (13 percent of the population)

B. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964. (31 percent of the population)

C. Generation X, born between 1964 and 1979. (29 percent of the population)

D. Millennials aka Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Generation Next, born between 1979 and 1996. (27 percent of the population)

Each generation has had several life-defining moments and/or experiences that impact how they view the world and how they will interact within the marketplace.


The Great Depression

Pre-feminism (stayed at home to raise children)

Loyal (once you got a job you kept it for life)

Discipline and self-sacrifice (World War generation)

Big-band/swing music generation

View work as an obligation, respect authority, take more rational approaches


Save-the-world in 60s & 70s

Career climbers (Yuppies) 70s & 80s

Rock and roll

First TV generation

The largest generation in history and they refuse to “act their age.”

Extremely focused on work, possess a strong work ethic

Generation X:

Original “latch-key kids”

Averages seven career changes in their lifetime

Individual rights trump common good

Late to marry and quick to divorce (many single parents)

Into labels and brand names

Embrace diversity and value entrepreneurship


Prefer to work in teams

Look for relaxed work environment

Envision the world on call 24/7

Have been told over and over again that they are special (and expect the world to treat them that way)

Have never known the world without computers

Goal oriented, enjoy collaboration, comfortable embracing emerging technologies

As a word of caution, common stereotypes are not always true. However, research has shown the birds of a feather do have a tendency to flock together. As a marketer, is it important to know how best to tailor your communications in order to effectively target your audience.

Yours Truly

James McKenna is the branding manager for the City of Lee’s Summit. Reach him at

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